Here is the full transcript of Kelsey Randle’s TEDx Talk: Invest to Create Your World at TEDxYouth@MileHigh conference.
We are all trying to figure ourselves out: Who are we? How do we fit into the world around us? And what are we going to do with the rest of our lives? Overall, our whole generation is asking this question.
We describe ourselves as alone, overworked, and lacking community and identity, but it doesn’t have to be this way. And I invite you as I speak to try these things on because everybody is feeling this way. So, it’s very easy to reach into your community and create what you’re craving, to create your identity, and to reach into the lives of others.
So, when I was in 8th grade, I was very awkward, very introverted, but I knew I wanted to do really big things in life. I just didn’t know how.
Luckily for me, I met a group of girls who knew exactly how to do this. It was a group focused around community, learning, and living really big in the world. Together, we put our funds together, and decided to work every other Sunday for 2 hours to give back to our community. We did this in the form of grant giving. So, we would pool our funds together, review these applications, and by the time I graduated high school, I have been giving for 5 years.
There’s 55 other girls who joined the small group of girls with me, and it was the best place I could have been in that time of my life. And that’s where I started to find exactly who I was. So, fast forward, and I’m in college I’m lucky enough to meet a big group of people who are doing textbook fundraising. So, textbook fundraising is the idea where you get groups to donate books to you.
If a book is over $10, we sell it online. If it’s under $10, we donate it back to the students. In 3 years, we were able to donate $15,000. And this $15,000 went on to give money to children who had been abused and needed counseling. It gave backpacks to children who had never had backpacks to go back to school.
Going back to high school, the same group of girls we had all been brought up the same way. We wanted community, and we lacked a personal identity, but we found it together. We gave $5,500 grants every year for 5 years that I was there. We gave to our local community, giving the opportunity for children to live and go to camps in the summertime, have school supplies, new shoes, new clothes. It was here that we realized that we could do 2 things: we could be really creative with how we fundraised.
These 55 girls and I, we babysat for our money, we would have car washes and bake sales, and I can’t really bake, but I got the money in. And I realized that we can be really thoughtful with how we fund raise. So, there’s two ways to find money, through creatively looking into the world around you, but also reaching into your own pocket. I explained to you that I babysat and did bake sales. And the other portion was textbook fundraising.
And so, when I reached into the world for community, it came right back at me. I created the community. High school-aged girls were all my same age, it was all girls, and we grew up the same way. But in college, I learned that those were the people that I may have never met if it wasn’t this idea that we all wanted to give back. Another thing this made me do: be really thoughtful with my money.
How do you do this? Well, I had to get real with myself. How many times did I go out and buy a new outfit because I was in a bad mood? A lot of times. And how many times have I gone and had some Starbucks which was way overly priced, but I needed it that day? I did it way too often. I created this inability to understand money in relation to myself. I started to take for granted in high school, that is, that small portions of money couldn’t be donated.
That philanthropy was saved for when you are an adult and you had extra money – I don’t really think that’s actually a thing anymore – but I had this idea that you’re older, you are retired, you wrote a cheque I didn’t realize that in 8th grade, I could start being very thoughtful.
So, I started calculating with my friends if I spend $10 extra a week, I’m spending $40 a month, that’s actually a lot of money when you calculate it over a year 480 dollars. But, I look into the people around me, and realized that they wanted to give back in the same ways I do.
Ten of my best friends and I get together, we’re giving $4,800 back to the community around us That’s a large impact, and all it means is that each week, I skip out on Starbucks. What does that look like for other people? For me, to skip out on my Starbucks means that another child gets to go to camp. That’s a large impact to think about my money. My small amount of money each week. The money I babysat for.
So, I kind of calculate it. If every student in Colorado, every high school-aged student, if we each saved $10 a month, you would be giving back 102 million dollars to people in need every year. And when you think about philanthropy, you often think about these small sums of change that don’t add up and this is where I tell that they do. It’s whenever you’re giving back, it’s not just the power of one.
The basis of giving back is to create a community that you give with, and give back to the community around you. So, it’s these ideas that I ask you Invest in the things that create who you are. When you’re in 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, people tell you you’re too young. Even now, I’m about to graduate and people say: “Oh, don’t worry about it. You have the rest of your life.” But it’s the thought that in 8th grade, I chose to invest in the things that created who I am now. I chose to be thoughtful with my money. I chose to be thoughtful with my time. And I decided that the best way to invest in myself was to invest in others.
So, what time is the best time to create who you are? You can do this through being thoughtful, reaching out to your friends, creating a larger impact. So, I invite you in these next few weeks just look up for a little bit. What are you spending that you don’t need to spend? What time do you have that you could be donating to others? What skills do you have that you could be working for a non profit and allowing them to serve your greater community? What does that look like to you? What does it look like to invest in the person that you want to be for the rest of your life? And how do you invest in the people you walk around each day? Try that on.
Invite people into your space. Invite people to spend their money wisely, to get together, because you’re never too young to create who you will be for the rest of your life.